Coming to the end of International Stress Awareness Week, I thought it timely to introduce this concept as you’ll have no doubt seen a lot on social media about how to take control of your stress levels.

We are also just about to enter the “holiday” Season – that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, when even outside of the USA, we begin doing things in a compressed manner because school holidays begin, we ourselves have time off, etc…This happens before summer holidays too!

What if there was a way to handle overwhelm associated with holidays with grace and ease?

Enter the concept of ASAP – Anxiety & Stress Action Plan!

I’m a big advocate for contingency and risk assessment and planning.

What we know about stress

You can’t stress to a solution.  It’s a simple case of biology.

Physiologically, stress, anxiety and even depression trigger the sympathetic nervous system (SNS)– home of the famous “fight or flight” mechanism. F.Diane Barth, L.C.S.W.

There are lots of great advice out there about how to take control of your stress levels and a lot of it is common sense.

So, why is it so hard to implement new strategies?

Stress is activated by our emotional response in our body which shuts down our logic and our SNS just wants to survive, thinking it’s fighting off Lions.

Our beliefs and habits create our minds to seek patterns.  By imagining contingencies to our anticipated stressful situations, we can begin to shut off the SNS.

An ASAP enables you to create scenarios in your mind where due to the fact that the mind cannot determine between reality and imagination thinks an event has already happened.

Since you played out a strategy of what you would do in your mind, the brain does not activate the SNS and you are therefore able to continue to act in a logical way.

A great example of this happened to the woman who launched Happinez Magazine in the Netherlands.  She was faced with the decision to invest everything into her new venture, which carried the risk of losing her home, life savings, etc…So she imagined the worst case scenario and then she took herself to the worst neighbourhood in the area, where she might afford the rent with the little she’d receive in benefits.  She sat in her car observing the comings and goings.  She realised that it wasn’t as bad as she thought so knew she could take the risky action.

To create a Stress & Anxiety Action Plan

  1. Journal your stress & anxiety. Ana Forrest, in her book Fierce Medicine, suggests you hunt your fears like a photographer hunts an animal to really get to know it.  Disassociate yourself and be curious if possible.  Explore & unpick all levels of your stresses & anxiety.
  2. Create alternative scenarios where things go your way, or you reach a compromise. Or, what happens if the worst happens?  What will you do?
  3. Meditate on your stress & anxiety – Allow your feelings to freely flow, knowing you can open your eyes and come back to the room. If your feelings are stuck inside, unexpressed, the you are literally stewing in them!
  4. Practice EFT so should the situation arise, you’ve got the experience of working in the energy, in the moment.
  5. Find mantras that inspire you to let go. I love Eckhart Tolle’s quote “Your suffering is not due to the situation.  It’s your resistance to what’s happening that is causing you to feel suffering.”  I also love “you can’t stress to a solution” quoted often by Tony Robbins and Nick Ortner.

However you decide to create a Stress & Anxiety Action Plan is entirely up to you.  You will know what will work best for you.  Whether you create a little vision board, a mantra, a checklist – it’s the planning process alongside imagining the outcomes that really matter.

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